Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
Directed by Tim Hill. Voices by Bill Murray, Tim Curry. Starring Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Billy Connolly, Ian Abercrombie. (2006, PG, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., June 16, 2006
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of computer-animated summer movies for children, it was the age of bland and perfunctory sequels with phoned-in voice work. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity that the first Garfield movie made $75 million and generated a second – a second with not one but two CGI cats and an overseas location. Viewers have everything before them (talking farm animals! a sneering villain! topiary hedges! London scenery!) and nothing before them (Meyer and Hewitt are virtually nonexistent, even when they’re onscreen together). There is a cat with a large belly and a love of lasagna (and the voice of Murray) on the throne of his master’s house; there is an identical cat (voice of Curry) on the throne of Carlyle castle, an estate on the upper Thames. There is an inevitable prince-and-the-pauper mix-up; there are fart jokes and lengthy musical interludes to pad the film. There is a Rottweiler to bite repeatedly the crotch of the cats’ nemesis (Connolly), a mustache-twirling royal pretender who also takes a ferret up the trousers. All these things, and a thousand like them, come to pass in the film’s 90-minute running time with nary a moment of pleasure. Perfectly respectable English thespians – Bob Hoskins, Jane Horrocks, Richard E. Grant, and Vinnie Jones – are laid to waste voicing the flesh-and-blood animals (Rhys Ifans fares the best as a Scots bunny) while Garfield breakdances. A children’s movie about wily farm animals besting their human enemy and saving their manor might have been worth watching, but what is Garfield doing here? Jim Davis’ cartoon strip (and its television incarnations, with voice work by the deadpan Lorenzo Music) isn’t high art, but it at least has a sly charm and a point to make: People are whipped by their pets. It’s about the loving but contentious relationship between cat and man, not about cramming a frame with as many talking animals doing as much wacky shit as possible. A Tail of Two Kitties couldn’t care less about its human principals, and all it wants its animals to do is air-guitar to “Cat Scratch Fever” and wear silly sunglasses. It’s sort of the Hollywood equivalent of a Tijuana donkey painted to look like a zebra, but not quite as funny.